All drug cases being reviewed in Waco after flawed affidavit
All current drug cases being handled by the Waco Police Department are now under review after a flawed affidavit was found.
Omissions in a sworn affidavit from a Waco Police Department drug investigator in a cocaine case have triggered a McLennan County District Attorney’s Office review of all of the department’s drug cases and an internal probe of the department involving the Texas Rangers.
McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna says that there are hundreds of cases to be reviewed.
According to a letter obtained by KWTX, “prosecutors discovered an inconsistency in the report and affidavit of Waco police Detective David Starr” in a case involving the arrest of two men and the recovery of two kilograms of cocaine.
The report and affidavit indicated the arrests were the result of an “interdiction” operation conducted by the Waco Police Department’s Drug Enforcement Unit, but “After discussion with the detective it was revealed that there was not an interdiction operation and the arrest of the defendants was made pursuant to information received from a confidential informant,” the letter said.”
Starr told prosecutors he was “apprehensive about wording the report and affidavit this way, but was ordered to do so,” the letter said.
“In an abundance of caution, no action will be taken on any Waco PD drug cases, unless first approved by myself or First Assistant Michael Jarrett,” the letter said.
Some cases during the investigation will be dismissed.
“Some of these cases involve individuals who had transported and delivered large amounts of drug within our community,” Reyna states. “However we will not and cannot prosecute cases without being 100 percent confident in the work of the law enforcement officers in each individual case.”
Reyna said he notified Waco Police Chief Brent Stroman of the discrepancy and that Stroman launched an internal review and requested assistance from the Texas Rangers.
“I have no reason or evidence to believe that this is a department-wide problem,” Reyna said.
Stroman issued a statement late Thursday afternoon in which he confirmed the internal investigation.
“We understand that concerns and questions may arise, but we need to let the processes run their course before drawing any conclusions,” he said in the statement.
“The facts of the situation will dictate my action and a resolution to this matter,” he said.
The Waco Police Department made national headlines last year after a shootout at Twin Peaks left nine people dead and 192 arrested. The department has been criticized for arresting people for merely being associated rather than involved in any criminal activity. Waco Police Department has countered that all arrested are part of organized criminal activity. Several lawsuits have been filed by people who were arrested.
The department’s spokesman, Sergeant Patrick Swanton, is running against incumbent Sheriff Parnell McNamara in the Republican Primaries next month.
It is currently unknown how many of the affected cases are for marijuana possession and/or distribution.